For nearly 75 lakh Mumbaiites dependent on suburban trains, the recent fare hike announced by railway minister PK Bansal will end up pinching their pockets more than they expected.
Instead of the present practice of rounding off the ticket rates to nearest rupee, the railways have decided to round it off to multiples of Rs5.
This means, if the revised fare is Rs12, it will be rounded off to Rs15. Similarly, if the revised fare is Rs26, it will now be Rs30.
First-class commuters will have to pay Rs1 to Rs4 more and suburban commuters will pay Rs2 to Rs3 more in addition to the revised fare. In case of second-class commuters, the fare will be rounded off to immediate lower multiple of Rs5 if the last digit is 1 or 6. (see graphic).
The new fares will be effective from January 22.
However, there may be some relief for passengers if the development charge that is levied on tickets is removed completely. In that case, the hike may not be too steep.
But lack of clarity on the issue has left the city’s railway officials in a dilemma.
A circular issued by the railway board said that rounding off the fares to multiples of Rs5 would be done after levy of taxes and surcharge. It also said not to add the development charge that gets levied on every train ticket across the country.
What is unclear is whether the development charge should be merged with present fare or completely removed.
According to railway officials, if the development charges are abolished, the
first-class ticket prices may go down even after the fares are increased.
Currently, development charge of Re1 is levied on a single journey second-class ticket and Rs20 on a first-class ticket.
The development charges is Rs30 for a second-class quarterly season pass and Rs60 for a first-class pass.
Passenger associations are not too pleased with the development. “The railway is trying to loot the middle-class suburban commuters,” said Subhash Gupta, member, National Railway Users Consultative Committee.